In 2014, long before he became the subject of a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Matt Gaetz pushed Florida to enact what he called a “scorched-earth” policy toward sexual predators.

Gaetz, then 31 years old, served as the chairman of the Florida House of Representatives’ Criminal Justice Subcommittee. He cosponsored legislation that increased the mandatory prison time for convicted sexual offenders, calling it some of the most important work his subcommittee would do.

Gaetz cosponsored legislation that year that would increase Florida’s mandatory minimum sentence for violent sexual offenders to 50 years.

The bill also broadened the definition of “sexual activity” that could qualify as a second-degree felony for a person 24 or older who engages in sexual activity with a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old, according to a staff analysis of the bill.

“If we’ve learned anything from the evidence, it’s that many of these individuals who specifically go out and target the very most vulnerable among us are simply wired differently, and I would like to see them behind bars for 50 years minimum,” Gaetz said

Gaetz, now a 38-year-old Florida congressman, is the subject of a Justice Department inquiry into whether he had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl that violated sex-trafficking laws.


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